How reducing “frictions” can lead to more effective businesses


Image source: Department of Theoretical Physics at Ural University. Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other…

Highlight: “Researchers at the University of Israel have investigated the self-locomotion of certain micro-organisms…these tiny swimmers live in a world surrounded by fluids and dominated by friction… they show that adaptations have led their propulsion to be almost friction-less as the micro-swimmer are propelled forward with the speed of the backward surface motion…in other words they move throughout an almost quiescent fluid…”

Insight: For those who have taken advanced chemistry classes, a fun and favorite experiment has always been playing with liquid nitrogen and splashing it on surfaces. Observing the droplets flow speedily is rather amusing! It is the result of a process whereby the very low temperature fluid instantly boils at room pressure and temperature thus creating a layer of air below it which allows the almost friction-less movement of the droplets. In such experiment one can visualize firsthand how surface frictions can dramatically slow down motion …

Friction-less adaptations can greatly improve natural systems energy levels and the same applies to the business world. In business terms “frictions” would be defined as elements which slow the normal operations or that prevent it from performing better. Typical examples would include inefficient staff(s), wrongly applied systems or processes and miscommunications.


Image: The Fishbone Diagram provides an overview of typical business “frictions”

Basically at any given time there are areas of a business which suffer from frictions and affect the overall operations. Often the situation is such that businesses don’t even realize that they are being slowed down by these frictions and blame poor performances solely on external factors instead such as the economy!

Is your business not performing as well as it should? If so, perhaps you should consider  assessing where the frictions are and working towards dimming them…

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What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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Biomimetic file 185: Friction-less Motion